Monday, November 29, 2004


HatTip to Doug Yeum. When I came back from Korea this past May, I remember SMSing my friends about whether they were going to play basketball one night. One of them called back and told me that he didn't know his cellphone could receive text messages. I was surprised since I was so accustomed to SMSing my friends in Korea about everything.

It was convenient to text message people when you're in meetings, on the go, or when you needed a simple response. I easily SMSed more than 10 messages a day. People a decade younger probably at least 30 times. Two decades younger probably 50 times. Whether a busy professional, housewife, or student, people didn't need a Nokia commercial to tell them the benefit and convenience of text messaging on your mobile phone.

In the U.S., it is a different story. Blackberry came first and captured the attention of the professional market. For various reasons not completely known to me, SMS never took off in the U.S, but I wonder if this is another trend that the U.S. is lagging behind in.

Earlier this year, I read about the growth of camera phones in the U.S. and related issues of privacy that Korea dealt with almost three years ago. Wireless and broadband services in general are at least a couple years behind the South Korea market in adoption and quality. So will SMS have the same impact on email in the U.S. as it did in Korea?

Some more information on this matter:

A poll conducted by Chungbuk University computer education professor Lee Ok-hwa on over 2,000 middle, high school and college students in Gyeonggi and Chungcheong provinces in October revealed that more than two-thirds of the respondents said, "I rarely use or don't use e-mail at all."
Daum Communication, the top email business in the country, saw its email service pageviews fall over 20 percent from 3.9 billion in October last year to 3 billion in October this year. By contrast, with SK Telecom, the nation's No. 1 communication firm, monthly SMS transmissions skyrocketed over 40 percent in October from 2.7 billion instances last October.

Again, good post and article link from my friend's blog(Doug runs an IT consulting shop and built the first blog service in Korea for Korea Telecom's broadband portal):

I've said before that email is no longer a very effective communications tool due to spam and increasing popularity of instant messaging, SMS, and blogs/mini-hompy (personal media). The younger generation, especially, tend not to use email unless it is necessary (e.g. submitting reports to professors).

This article also suggests that use of email will continue to decline in Korea as other forms of online communications become the preferred choice among young online users.

The email era is coming to an end because replacement communication means such as Internet messengers, mini-homepages (dubbed "one-man media"), and SMS are wielding their power. As a consequence, the stronghold of email, once the favorite of the Internet, is being shaken from its roots.

The ebbing of email is a phenomenon peculiar to Korea, an IT power. Leading the big change, unprecedented in the world, are our teens and those in their 20's. The perception that "email is an old and formal communication means" is rapidly spreading among them. "I use email when I send messages to elders," said a college student by the name of Park. For 22-year-old office worker Kim, "I use email only for receiving cellphone and credit card invoices."

The reasons given for shunning email are that it's impossible to tell whether an addressee has received a message right away and replies are not immediately forthcoming. Still another reason is that you send messages through SMS or messenger as if you were playing a game, while doing so through email makes you feel as if you are doing homework or performing a task. "The new generation hate agonizing and waiting and tend to express their feelings immediately," said Professor Lee. "The decline of email is a natural outcome reflecting such characteristics of the new generation."

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